Recent advances in population genetics of ectomycorrhizal mushroomsRussulaspp.
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The mushroom genus Russula is among the largest and morphologically most diverse basidiomycete genera in the world. They are broadly distributed both geographically and ecologically, forming ectomycorrhizal relationships with a diversity of plants. Aside from their ecological roles, some Russula species are gourmet mushrooms. Therefore, understanding their population biology and fundamental life history processes are important for illustrating their ecological roles and for developing effective conservation and utilization strategies. Here, we review recent population genetic and molecular ecological studies of Russula. We focus on issues related to genet sizes, modes of reproduction, population structures, and roles of geography on their genetic relationships. The sampling strategies, molecule markers, and analytical approaches used in these studies will also be discussed. Our review suggests that in Russula, genets are typically small, local recombination is frequent, and that long-distance spore dispersal is relatively uncommon. We finish by discussing several long-standing issues as well as future trends with regard to life history and evolution of this important group of mushrooms.